Navigation Links
Lake Mead could be dry by 2021
Date:2/12/2008

There is a 50 percent chance Lake Mead, a key source of water for millions of people in the southwestern United States, will be dry by 2021 if climate changes as expected and future water usage is not curtailed, according to a pair of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Without Lake Mead and neighboring Lake Powell, the Colorado River system has no buffer to sustain the population of the Southwest through an unusually dry year, or worse, a sustained drought. In such an event, water deliveries would become highly unstable and variable, said research marine physicist Tim Barnett and climate scientist David Pierce.

Barnett and Pierce concluded that human demand, natural forces like evaporation, and human-induced climate change are creating a net deficit of nearly 1 million acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River system that includes Lake Mead and Lake Powell. This amount of water can supply roughly 8 million people. Their analysis of Federal Bureau of Reclamation records of past water demand and calculations of scheduled water allocations and climate conditions indicate that the system could run dry even if mitigation measures now being proposed are implemented.

The paper, When will Lake Mead go dry?, has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Water Resources Research, published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and is accessible via the AGUs website (see instructions below).

We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it was coming at us, said Barnett. Make no mistake, this water problem is not a scientific abstraction, but rather one that will impact each and every one of us that live in the Southwest.

Its likely to mean real changes to how we live and do business in this region, Pierce added.

The Lake Mead/Lake Powell system includes the stretch of the Colorado River in northern Arizona. Aqueducts carry the water to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other communities in the Southwest. Currently the system is only at half capacity because of a recent string of dry years, and the team estimates that the system has already entered an era of deficit.

When expected changes due to global warming are included as well, currently scheduled depletions are simply not sustainable, wrote Barnett and Pierce in the paper.

Barnett and Pierce note that a number of other studies in recent years have estimated that climate change will lead to reductions in runoff to the Colorado River system. Those analyses consistently forecast reductions of between 10 and 30 percent over the next 30 to 50 years, which could affect the water supply of between 12 and 36 million people.

The researchers estimated that there is a 10 percent chance that Lake Mead could be dry by 2014. They further predict that there is a 50 percent chance that reservoir levels will drop too low to allow hydroelectric power generation by 2017.

The researchers add that even if water agencies follow their current drought contingency plans, it might not be enough to counter natural forces, especially if the region enters a period of sustained drought and/or human-induced climate changes occur as currently predicted.

Barnett said that the researchers chose to go with conservative estimates of the situation in their analysis, though the water shortage is likely to be more dire in reality. The team based its findings on the premise that climate change effects only started in 2007, though most researchers consider human-caused changes in climate to have likely started decades earlier. They also based their river flow on averages over the past 100 years, even though it has dropped in recent decades. Over the past 500 years the average annual flow is even less.

Today, we are at or beyond the sustainable limit of the Colorado system. The alternative to reasoned solutions to this coming water crisis is a major societal and economic disruption in the desert southwest; something that will affect each of us living in the region the report concluded.


'/>"/>

Contact: Rob Monroe
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Carbon capture strategy could lead to emission-free cars
2. Study of successful drug targets could hasten development of new medications
3. Forests could benefit when fall color comes late
4. Unique fungal collection could hold key to future antibiotics
5. Skull survey could improve vehicle safety
6. New way to produce high-vitamin corn could improve nutrition in developing countries
7. Lipoic acid could reduce atherosclerosis, weight gain
8. Selective restraints and reduced medication could reduce nursing home falls says 4-year study
9. New discovery could reduce the health risk of high-fat foods
10. Deep-sea species loss could lead to oceans collapse, study suggests
11. New technique could dramatically lower costs of DNA sequencing
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Lake Mead could be dry by 2021
(Date:3/20/2017)... 2017 At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor Dr. ... DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together with the Japanese ... CeBIT partner country. At the largest German biometrics company the two government ... and iris recognition as well as DERMALOG´s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... March 13, 2017 Future of security: Biometric Face Matching ... ... DERMALOGs Face Matching enables to match face pictures against each ... to identify individuals. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... DERMALOG,s "Face Matching" is the fastest software for biometric Face Matching on ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... BRIGHTON, England , March 7, 2017 Brandwatch ... been chosen by The Prince,s Trust to uncover insights ... insights across The Trust. The UK,s leading youth charity ... track social campaign results and get a better understanding of the ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2017)... Tenn. , April 27, 2017  Pendant Biosciences, ... developing innovative surface modification and drug delivery technologies, today ... Johnson Innovation, JLABS @ Toronto . ... Executive Officer of Pendant Biosciences, noted, "We are excited ... Toronto community, and are honored to be ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... Looking for ... and cooking events company, offers one-of-a-kind gifts, ranging from gourmet cooking experiences to ... cuisine, and guests leave inspired with new cooking tips and techniques, thanks to ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... Led by ex-FDA ... clinical trials comes to Tampa, San Francisco and Boston in 2017. The ... regulated organizations such as Pfizer Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals, Advaxis, Inc., Ocular Therapeutix Inc., ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... Baltimore bio tech ... mail security screening solution at the National Postal Forum 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland, ... fast, highly accurate, easy to use and low cost threat detection solution for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: